The Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers' Association (KSSGA) has called for a state-wide bandh on Saturday, 5 September, in protest of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Congress government's alleged indifference towards the rising cases of farmer suicides in the state.
KSSGA president Kurubur Shanthakumar said on Wednesday that the decision to call a state-wide strike was taken at a meeting with farmers, who have been protesting for over a month now.
"In order to put pressure on the authorities, the association will observe a bandh and also be part of the agitation till the demand is met," The New Indian Express quoted Shanthakumar as saying.
In order to end the crisis of farmers' suicide, the association has demanded that the Centre and State government waive off crop loans taken by farmers from nationalised and cooperative banks as the drought situation in the state has adversely affected production.
Shanthakumar said that the Centre should announce a Vidarbha model package of Rs. 10,000 crore for Karnataka. He also asked for a change in norms for extending crop loans by asking banks "to lend crop loans to the extent of 75 per cent of the cost of the land owned by the farmer" The Hindu reported.
He further demanded that the families of the farmers who committed suicide should be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
Raising the issue of sugarcane growers, Shanthakumar said that the State government should direct sugar factories to pay the Rs 574 crore due for the 2013-14 season and Rs 2,400 crore due for the 2014-15 season.
They have also demanded prompt implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project, which was undertaken by Karnataka government for the supply of drinking water to Belgaum, Dharwad and Gadag districts.
The Centre had in 2002 cleared the canal project, but the then NDA government refused to give permission to build the canal after the then Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar claimed that the construction would harm its own flora and fauna.
The Karnataka government headed by HD Kumaraswamy had resumed the construction process in 2006, but Goa government sought a stay on the project. Now, the farmers, particularly from Belgaum, Dharwad and Gadag districts, have been demanding to resume work to construct the canal.
The farmers will also hold a rally in Bengaluru on 7 September and stage a dharna in front of Chief Minister's residence, demanding measures to end famers' suicide in the state.
The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene, farmers, social organisations and pro-Kannada organisations will participate in the farmers' agitation. No political parties will be allowed to attend their protest, Shanthakumar said.
Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) has also extended its support to the protest. KSCA, headed by ts secretary Brijesh Patel, has submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Siddaramaiah.
The state-wide bandh is unlikely to disrupt normal life in Bengaluru, state capital. Buses and autos are also expected to ply in the city as usual.